Portugal is blessed with excellent golden sand beaches, coppery cliffs and rugged coastline with plenty hidden coves and bays. To the south the warm waters of the Mediterranean drift over from the east and warm the wild waters of the Atlantic Ocean to the west. The Cape of St Vincent, the most southwesterly point in Europe. Off the tourist trail and it is easy to find quiet fishing villages or quaint hillside hamlet with delightful traditional feel. White washed houses with azure blue trim and narrow, cobbled streets lined with cafes offering grilled sardines and glass of port. The beautiful countryside is dotted with lime, lemon, orange trees but nothing quite prepares you for the expanse of the cork and almond forests. Whether you are an avid bird watcher seeking natural habitats, a beach buddy in need of chill out time or a city slicker in search of cosmopolitan city, Portugal has it all.Time of visit: Winter 2014 and Spring 2015 Our average daily spend: €21.37 Official language: Portuguese Emergency phone number: 112 Police, fire, rescue: 112 Currency: Euro
Food & Groceries
Portugal has a great array of supermarkets, local convenient stores and weekly markets. If you are shopping at the market you will find an a colourful arrangement of fresh, locally grown produce at reasonable prices. The markets are usually held in the town square and start at sunrise and wrap up by early afternoon. The larger markets held in the cities or resorts tend to open all day and also offer a range of tourist goods and services.
Portugal is very reasonable when it comes to eating out from simple street vendor to fine dining. Whilst Portugal has a wonderful collection of restaurants you can’t beat the authentic home cooked and affordable dishes found in the local shacks and unpretentious cafes. It is here you will find the real Portugal where a warm welcome, tasty food and great hospitality makes meal an outing to remember.
Supermarket chains such as Auchan, Intermarche, Lidl, Continente and Jumbo are the most popular in Portugal. Continente and Carrefour are usually quite large and tend to be located inside a retail shopping and cinema complex. Parking is not a problem and Lidl even have dedicated motorhome parking bays. Pingo Doce offer small but well stocked stores in most towns and whilst they may be more expensive they tend to offer UK brands.
Portuguese food combines a maritime bounty of fresh fish with the robust flavours from the hills. A must try – chicken piri piri, grilled sardines, salted cod fish, monk fish but my favourite has be pastel de nata
Portugal is one of the best places to travel with a motorhome. Nearly every town or village has a motorhome stopover, which are called aires. The aires are for motorhome parking only. In the main, an aire offers camper services such as fresh water, black water, grey water and electric. The price to stop on an aire varies from free to a few euro’s for 24 hours. Services tend to either be included or a small nominal charge for fresh water and electricity.
The Algarve is an easy place to camp and therefore attracts 1000’s of motorhomes each year. If you head for the winter sunshine you are sure to find plenty like minded campers but be aware, in high season it is not uncommon for the aires to be overcrowded or full to capacity.
No Parking signs are often white or blue with a red line across. Yellow or red painted signs and lines on the curb also indicate no parking. It is illegal to park on a sidewalk ramp that grants access to property or to park within 5 metres of a road junction, 25 metres before and 5 metres after a bus stop and within 6 metres of a tram stop.
Always park facing the same direction as the traffic on one-way streets.
Motorways service stations with fuel, cafeterias, newsagents and supermarkets. They also have emergency telephones, information points and repair garages
City parking is usually limited to underground parking lots with height restrictions, so be cautious when following parking signs in busy cities.
We understand that many people are nervous about driving abroad (especially remembering to drive on the right) but it really is quite easy once you get there.
You must be 17 years old and have a valid UK driving licence, insurance and vehicle documents in order to drive in Portugal. If you don’t own the vehicle you’re driving, you should get written permission from the registered owner.
Your vehicle number plate must indicate the country of registration. If not, you need to purchase a country (i.e. GB) sticker and place on the rear of the motorhome.
Any form of radar detectors are illegal and if caught using one you will probably be handed a rather large fine.
Quirky ways: Just a few things take time to get used to like slip roads on and off dual carriageways are sometimes the wrong way around, which means that while you’re busy slowing down and indicating to pull off, new cars will be trying to enter the flow of traffic.
In villages, don’t be surprised to find a car stopped in the middle of the road whilst the driver stops for a bit of a chin wag. Portuguese are very polite, so they will probably move as you approach but if not, gentle beep of the horn will result in them moving over for you.
Don’t be alarmed if a Portuguese driver hugs your bumper, as soon as white dotted lines appear they will overtake you and half a dozen cars before swerving back in lane to avoid a near death experience from on coming traffic.
You need to carry 2 x warning triangle, reflective jacket, seat belts both front and rear. Headlamp adjuster and spare headlight bulbs and tools.
Driving regulations: we use AA or RAC for up to date driving regulations & restrictions.
You drive on the right hand side of the road and all speed limits are shown in kilometres.
Highway : 120 km/h
Dual carriageway : 100 km/h
Open road : 90 km/h
Town : 50 km/h
There are 2 types of roads
Blue signs – motorways or Autoestrada
White with black writing – rural and secondary roads
We entered Portugal from Southern Spain and at the border crossing we had to register our vehicle details along with a valid credit card. This registration permitted us to use (but never did) the electronic tolled motorway system. This vehicle recognition system records your activity and directly charges your credit card details. You can also register your details at the post office but more information can be found here
You can buy from a supermarket station or fuel station. Fuel stations on toll roads are the most expensive and supermarkets are the least expensive.
The supermarket stations can get extremely busy especially at weekend. Most are self serve stations and attendant based kiosk are reducing month on month. Be aware of fuel prices, it is not uncommon for garages to increase prices at busy periods like at weekend. We found Jumbo supermarket fuel stations to be the cheapest in Portugal.
The autoroute fuel stations are open 24 hours and usually offer a shop, cafe and toilet facilities along with reasonable rest and picnic areas.
Your tank must be EN1949 European Standard compliant. To fill your cylinders you will need a dish connector. LPG is readily available across Portugal and we never had a problem finding it at most fuel stations and often referred to as GPL, GLP, GPL Auto or Autogas.
The quality of health care and health care facilities in Portugal are generally good. The country operates a basic public system for those who contribute to the social security system but anyone else must buy private health insurance. If you are citizen of the EU and travelling through Portugal or on holiday, you are automatically entitled to free basic health care in Portugal due to reciprocal agreements among EU countries. You need to apply for a European Health Insurance Card, which simplifies the procedure when receiving medical assistance. Note that this health card is not an alternative to travel insurance, so private costs are not covered by this card.